Understanding the relationship between science and religion

Last Friday, one of my fellow columnists wrote about the seemingly taboo status of religious discussion among college students.

In my experience, those around me frequently explore the topics of science and religion. Contrary to the notoriously tumultuous atmosphere of this longstanding debate, I have seen that people can be more interested in pursuing truth than having the right answer or winning the argument.

I first heard of the possibility of unity existing between scientific and religious thought when I attended a lecture by Trent Horn at NAU. The ASU philosophy alumnus hosts retreats on apologetics, the use of rhetoric to defend faith, at Newman Centers, the national system of collegiate Catholic churches.

I saw another one of Horn’s presentation this past weekend, this time at the ASU Newman Center. As a “cradle Catholic,” I feel tepid in my devotion because I perceive a discrepancy in fervor and intellect among those with whom I shared a pew when I regularly attended Mass.

This unease prompted me to attended Horn’s welcoming lecture. He gave a basic cosmological proof on the existence of God, explaining Fr. Georges Lemaître’s, a Belgian priest and scientist, famous Big Bang Theory and the atheist scientists who opposed it, including Albert Einstein, who said “your calculations are correct, but your physics is abominable.”

Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, who discovered the microwave background radiation that supported the priest’s theory, were also covered by Horn.  He also covered the ideas of finely tuned universes, multiverses and even outspoken atheist biologist Richard Dawkins.

Instead of being preached dogmatism that attempts to bridge the gap between the nuances of Scripture and the observations of powerful telescopes, Horn offered a thorough analysis of the widely discussed attempts at understanding our origin.

I was impressed with the logical flow of Horn’s well-researched argument. Even though most of the science went over my head, Horn and his reasoning reassured me of the existence of God more than an overzealous testimony.

At the end of his lecture, Horn said, “For some people, (this information) is helpful,” referring to the understanding and overcoming of intellectual barriers between science and religion. Others, like me, find it to be refreshing and enlightening discourse.

More attention must be drawn to the fact that we are all looking for the same thing: an understanding of reality. Religion may focus on the why and science the how, but both can be precious and fulfilling views, and both can be worth our time.


Reach the columnist at jlgunthe@asu.edu


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